As is common knowledge now, the Kony 2012 viral video campaign by advocacy group Invisible Children has been under fire.
Both the company’s financial practices and the nature of the video itself have been called into question.
Invisible Children has defended these criticisms in various ways. Speaking to the Washington Post, Invisible Children’s Director of Ideology, Jedediah Jenkins, said he believes that the film represents a “tipping point,” as it is the first step in a multifaceted campaign to get the younger population to get involved in an issue that does not directly affect them.
That’s all well and good, and despite criticism, Invisible Children itself believes that it’s doing a great job in getting the word out about the atrocities that Joseph Kony has committed.
But is awareness what really needs to be spread in this instance?
What many may not realize is that as of October 2011, President Obama had authorized one hundred military advisers to go to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to train the regional forces in tactics to help capture Joseph Kony and finish off the remnants of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been considered a prominent terrorist group by the United States since the September 11th attacks.
The United States has been involved in several unsuccessful capture attempts on Kony, the most prominent being Operation Lightning Thunder in November of 2008. While United States soldiers were not directly involved in the operation, the special forces stationed there assisted the Ugandan military in this operation by providing resources and intelligence.
In other words, the United States military has done all they can in an advisory capacity, and is currently training local forces to capture and bring Joseph Kony to justice.
So why is Invisible Children pressuring the United States government to pursue Kony, when, as facts dictate, everything possible is already being done?
The answer that Invisible Children would like to give is awareness, but I seriously question the effectiveness of that type of strategy.
If anything, spreading awareness — in this instance in particular — is problematic for two immediate reasons.
The first — and more practical — is that when Kony, who is currently on the run with only a few hundred troops at his disposal, gets word of the campaign.
If I were an unstable Ugandan warlord, and I got wind of the fact that college students across the nation suddenly cared about the atrocities I had been committing for years, I would likely become desperate and amp up my abuse of human rights.
When public opinion turns against anyone and the floodlights are cast on them, they always become desperate, and I imagine Kony would be no different.
Arguing for more U.S. assistance in the region could easily make Kony abduct more children or go on the offensive, and no amount of awareness is worth that potential and very real risk.
The second, and more philosophical aspect to why awareness is not the right way to go about apprehending Kony, is that us knowing and superficially caring about Kony’s justice perpetuates a 21st century type of “The White Man’s Burden” mentality, implicitly advocating that the regions in Africa that are currently affected could not possibly bring Kony to justice without U.S. intervention.
Given that reality does not reflect this in the slightest, this is harmful because it makes us feel as though it is our our job, our responsibility, to spread Kony’s name, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Invisible Children actually came to my home university, Sarah Lawrence College, during my freshman year.
A former Lord’s Resistance Army child soldier spoke, and a video was also shown, and the entire affair was clearly orchestrated to tug at the heart strings, which is always an effective tactic when dealing with tragic situations.
But being the skeptic that I am, I decided it would make quite a bit more sense to research Kony independently, and found out that the political situation that Invisible Children was portraying to was not one that reflected the present, even then.
Despite being a notorious war criminal, it’s true that I likely would have never researched Kony in the first place, but at the end of the day did I even need to know about him?
Despite what we all may think, our knowledge of Kony’s actions does not actually dictate public policy, nor should it, as luckily we don’t live in a populist state.
Clearly, public opinion has not influenced U.S. involvement in Kony’s arrest or assassination as of yet, and it is unlikely that the Kony 2012 campaign needed to exist in the first place.
Spreading awareness of Joseph Kony does quite a bit to aggravate the situation, and if anything, the money used to fund this viral campaign could have gone to doing some actual good to organizations that would help rebuilding efforts after the devastation that Kony has caused.
Powered by Facebook Comments